Adopted... in another Reality
Does everyone play this game as a child... in which you ponder what your life would be like if you were adopted? What if my parents are not my parents? -Or what if my parents gave me up for adoption to another family? ...a family more well-off? What if my last name was not Heard?
...Airville is a small town in York. York is a relatively small place as well, given how much of it is farmland and wilderness. One family in Airville had two children marry into the Heards. I do not want to mention their family name... Because when one of their daughters became pregnant out of wedlock, they decided she should give it up for adoption.
I was not even conceived at this point in time. I have heard the story several different ways from several different sources, and I can not claim to offer any clarity on the situation. I only mention it because it is essential to the story. This family and my family have been living in Airville for many decades, are of similar socioeconomic status, and I have five cousins who are part of both families by blood. In my mind, I could just have easily been born one of them as a Heard.
My mother recalled the story, stating that she was upset to hear of a child being given away when she wanted a third child. She asked my father if they could take him. He told her it would have been inappropriate, that they would not want to watch my parents raise him. So- away he went... never to be seen or heard from again... until he was a teenager.
The first time I met Andy was at a family reunion. Curious to find his birth parents, he sought out his origin and found us... Unfortunately some years prior, his birth mother had died in a car accident, leaving Andy to never know her. In their grief, his remaining genetic relations were not eager to welcome him back into the family. This cut him to the core, but he would remain a sporadic visitor to Heard family events for several years thereafter.
Andy became good friends with our mutual cousin, Fern. Through her I would learn that Andy had been adopted by an affluent couple in York. He had been sent to the best private schools, provided with luxuries we had never known... yet all he wanted was the acceptance of his birth family, an identity that traced back to his biological parents... I never got a clear answer about his father, except that he was also unavailable.
I spent many years considering Andy a spoiled, ungrateful brat. I thought of how different my life would have been. The opportunities that would have been available to me, the choices I would have made... The places I would have traveled. The arts I would have studied. The college I could have chosen... Who I might have been.
...Years later, when I was dating Rolex, I would learn that he and Andy were best friends. Suddenly the sort-of-cousin that I barely ever saw was a rather central character in my life. He lived a few hours away, but we visited each other routinely. He was married by then with a daughter of his own... He had a beautiful house, nice cars, and he was constantly scheming up new ventures. He lived a full life. He went on amazing trips and told incredible stories. However, he had never given up his quest to better realize his identity, and the way he dealt with it was his major crux- booze.
Almost every drunken evening I spent in his company (and every evening spent with him was a drunken one) inevitably lead to the same line of questions; Had I met his mother? Did I remember her? What did I know? What did his family members say to me? What had I heard? What did I think?
I never had any answers.
Rolex would disapprove of my commentary on their friendship... so, I will censor myself. I will simply say that I told him after each of our visits, "This won't end well. He's heading to a dead-end... sooner than he should."
When I was with Andy, I could not bear to tell him to quit drinking. I could not find a way to encourage him to let go of a past that he was never part of, that could not hurt him anymore- in the handsome, generous life that had adopted him. Even then, I understood that no one could tell him, although many likely tried. Maybe he knew it, but he was not ready to accept it.
Last year... I received the call that Andy was in the hospital. Months prior, his wife had left him and taken their daughter to live with another man. He had made a somewhat successful attempt to start over... But in the end, he succumb to drinking related organ failure.
Poof. A dream of what might have been... over.
I gave up the illusion that I would have been anymore grateful- had Andy had my parents and upbringing and I his. The value of my heritage became more apparent. I learned to love seeing aspects of my parents in myself. I realized that I had something more valuable than wealth, I had knowledge that Andy would never have. Rather than worrying about who I was supposed to be, according to my genes, I had gone to great lengths to become who I wanted to be... inevitably resulting in much re-evaluation and revision, but nevertheless, ever closer to who I want to be.
...In my meditations and dreams I was confronted by this situation. I am a suicidal person. Maybe I was the one person who should have said something to him most... Why was I so certain my words would fall on deaf ears?
I have to believe that life happens as it is supposed to... that despite all of its darkness and woe, this must be the best of all possible worlds- because it is the one I am living in. If I imagine it is a miserable place, I will live in a miserable place. If I imagine I could have had a better family, I will never be satisfied with the one I have... and in truth, I love my family, myself-
Andy was a great gift in my life. He lived a full life in the time that he had. He left a daughter to carry on his legacy. He was an answer to a childhood question... and for me, my life is the best possible answer.